Dubai is set to introduce robotaxis as part of its plan to address congestion and accidents in the city. This initiative aims to make Dubai the first city in the Middle East with driverless taxis and will be operated by General Motors subsidiary, Cruise, with five fully autonomous electric taxis. These vehicles will begin testing in the exclusive Jumeirah district next month.
While autonomous taxis are already operating in various cities worldwide, including the United States and China, this will be the first launch of such vehicles outside the United States. The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) of Dubai plans to implement 4,000 autonomous taxis by 2030, expanding the current fleet of 12,000 traditional taxis in the city.
These robotaxis are expected to be slightly more expensive than regular taxis but within the price range of private vehicle services like Uber. Ahmed Bahrozyan, CEO of the RTA, stated that he envisions autonomous vehicles eventually dominating Dubai’s taxi fleet, bringing about a shift in the transportation landscape in the Middle East tourist hub. However, he emphasized that safety will not be compromised and underscored the importance of meeting the benchmarks set by the recently implemented regulatory law for autonomous vehicles in the city.
In addition to Cruise, Chinese autonomous vehicle technology company WeRide has also been testing robotaxis in Abu Dhabi. WeRide has obtained a license from the United Arab Emirates to conduct tests with all its vehicles and has expressed its interest in expanding its presence in the Middle East. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia has introduced autonomous buses for the Hajj season, showcasing the region’s growing focus on autonomous transportation.